Newington shortstop Brianna Gadarowski waits for ground ball as Glastonbury's Sadie Scurto runs to third. Glastonbury won the game 17-0 last Monday.
Newington softball coach Steve Markie had a tall task this season.
Following a lost year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the veteran coach had to train an inexperienced roster--- featuring only one senior---along with guiding them through the extremely competitive Central Connecticut Conference.
“We are a young team, so we weren’t sure what we’d have coming back but we’ve got a lot of contributions from a lot of kids,” stated Markie, “Some of the kids have surprised, some kids have improved. We have a long way to go to be consistent, but I like the kids and their work ethic.”
The team entered last week coming off back-to-back statement wins over Bloomfield (22-0) and Hartford Public (24-7) before running into a talented Glastonbury team last Monday, losing 17-0 in five innings.
Playing at home, the Guardians jumped out to an 11-0 lead after the first two innings and rode the strong right arm of Brooke Tracy the rest of the way.
“Today we just didn’t have it,” Markie said following the loss, “After the first inning when we give up eight, we knew it would be an uphill battle. Then we give up another three and we knew it would be tough. We have to be able to overcome that and be mentally stronger.”
Glastonbury did not commit an error in the win, limiting Newington to only three hits.
Markie’s team, who committed six errors, had very few bright spots but did get a pair of hits from blossoming sophomore Jaelyn Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, whose older sister Cyan Gonzalez was an All-State selection for Markie in 2019, leads the team in hits and RBIs, and is also the team’s starting pitcher.
Fellow sophomore Brianna Gadarowski, who starts at shortstop, lead the team in runs scored.
Markie said the two, along with junior captains Hanna DeMarco and Elisa Taylor, stabilize the program going forward, “It’s huge, just getting these types of experiences. Our two captains have done a great job at leading us. It bodes well for the future, but we just have to learn how to compete against the higher quality teams, game in and game out.”
The team’s only senior, Amanda Akerley, has been both productive and adaptable.
“Amanda works really hard, she leads by example. For the most part of the year, she was one of our better hitters,” said Markie, who played musical chairs when the team had injuries to both the starting and backup catcher earlier this season, “At that point it was all hands of deck and Amanda stepped up.”
The team also has a pair of freshmen in Ella Stair and Ava Johnson that have been thrust into the lineup and are excelling this season. The pair have scored the fourth and fifth most runs for the team.
Following the loss to Glastonbury, Newington fell to Rocky Hill (14-5) last Tuesday. The Terriers exploded for 11 runs in the final two innings, erasing a 5-4 deficit. Nicole DesRoches scored four runs, Maddie Dillon scored two more and drove in four, and Christina DeNovellis added 3 RBIs in the victory.
Newington rebounded to win their final two games last week, downing New Britain 13-1 in five innings and avenging the Rocky Hill loss with a 9-5 victory.
Against New Britain, Gonzalez struck out six on the mound and drove in five runs from the plate. Gadarowski added four runs on three hits.
Gadarowski scored three more runs, while Taylor and Jaiden Tucker each drove in a pair against Rocky Hill, helping Newington improve to 10-8.
Markie said he hopes to see more consistency before the state tournament starts, “Our biggest improvement has to be our defense. We know we are capable at doing it and we just haven’t consistently done that. If we can give [Gonzalez] some defense behind her, that will be the key in the tournament.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin